By Susan Fenton
LONDON, (Reuters) - Consumer confidence in the United States jumped in the third quarter and improved globally, although people were more optimistic about job prospects than their personal finances, a survey showed on Wednesday.
India remained the most bullish consumer market, while Italy became the most pessimistic, according to the survey by global information and insights company Nielsen.
The survey showed that concerns about the economy and job prospects had eased globally from the second quarter, but in North America and Europe that had been replaced by rising worries about war and terrorism.
European countries generally were the most pessimistic, reflecting the conflict in Ukraine, faltering growth and the risk of deflation in the euro zone. Britain and Germany, however, saw consumer confidence improve.
The Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index rose 1 point in the third quarter to 98, according to the survey, conducted between Aug. 13 and Sept. 5.
The index has been steadily rising since the first quarter of 2012 and the latest reading headed closer to the 100 mark that signals optimism among consumers.
U.S. consumers were the seventh most upbeat globally, with their score rising 4 points to 108 as optimism about job prospects continued to surge.
Americans were also slightly more upbeat about the outlook for their personal finances than they were in the second quarter, unlike Europeans, who were more pessimistic, reflecting persistently low wage growth.
“U.S. consumers are now feeling far more confident than in previous years of the recovery due to consistently good job market trends, reflected in steady payroll growth and falling unemployment over the course of 2014,” said Louise Keely, a senior vice president at Nielsen.
“They are also benefiting from lower gasoline prices and a gradually improving housing market. In the coming months, as we start to see more people re-entering the workforce and meaningful wage growth, this is likely to translate into broad-based gains in consumer spending."
Australia saw the biggest increase in confidence from the previous quarter, by 12 points, followed by Slovenia with a 9-point increase and Thailand with 8 points.
Chile posted the sharpest drop in confidence, by 7 points, followed by the Philippines with a 5-point decline and 4-point decreases for Italy and Ukraine.
The Nielsen survey was conducted online and covered more than 30,000 consumers across 60 markets.
Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Index in the third quarter, 2014 (change from Q2 survey in brackets):
Top 10 index readings Bottom 10 index readings
India 126 (-2) Finland 64 (-3)
Indonesia 125 (+2) France 59 (-1)
Philippines 115 (-5) Slovenia 58 (+9)
Thailand 113 (+8) Ukraine 57 (-4)
UAE 112 (+3) Hungary/Greece 56 (0,+1)
China 111 (0) Portugal 53 (+5)
United States 108 (+4) S. Korea 52 (-1)
Hong Kong 107 (+4) Serbia 51 (0)
Saudi Arabia 105 (+3) Croatia 49 (-1)
Denmark 104 (-2) Italy 47 (-4)
Global consumer confidence average 98 (+1)
Germany 97 (+1)
UK 93 (+3)
Japan 77 (+4)
Australia 97 (+12)
(Editing by Larry King)